Embracing Change

Are you an American Idol fan? Last night during the elimination show, mentor Jimmy Lovine evaluated each of the contestants performances. Of fan favorite Phillip Phillips, he said “Phillip is in danger of being passed by other contenders if he stands still.”

That quote reminded me of the book Who Moved My Cheese.  The classic tale, by best selling author Dr. Spencer Johnson, addresses the fear most of us face when dealing with change in our lives.

In the book the two mice “little people” Hem and Haw have discovered that their food source (their cheese) has moved. Something they have counted on to be there, in the same place, tasting the same, looking the same, has changed and they aren’t sure what to do.

The book discusses many aspects of how people deal with change but the one that spoke to me after watching America Idol was the fact that if we continue to do the same thing, the same way, we might get passed over or left behind.

If we continue to do the same thing the same way, we may get left behind.

In the world of marketing, if businesses are continuing to market as they did ten years ago, they are probably hurting for sales.

Traditional glossy brochures, newspaper print advertising and direct mail no longer have the same effectiveness as they once did. Businesses are finding they  need to embrace email advertising and social media to stay current and be visible to their clients.

For those of you who are mothers – think of how you punished your children when they did something less than desirable. Time outs, no dessert and being grounded from watching television doesn’t work as well on your 17 year old who has ignored curfew and been caught drinking beer. We have to change the way we deal with circumstances or risk being ineffective.

When asked about his performance, Phillip Phillips said that he was being himself and it wasn’t his deal to go out and connect with the audience and touch their hands like the other performers. He was just “doing his thing.”

Just doing our thing in the face of others who are stepping up and making changes may quickly leave us in the dust.

So how do you embrace change?

In the book, Who Moved My Cheese, the mice begin to learn a few things about change. Haw says “Sometimes, things change and they are never the same again. This looks like one of those times. That’s Life! Life moves on. And so should we.” Haw writes on the wall of the maze “If you do not change, you can become extinct.”

 Is there something in your life that is changing? It could be small like a new role within your company or a new job or it could be life altering like a change in marital status or the loss of a loved one or the birth of a baby.

The one thing that stays the same all our life is CHANGE.

We can resist. We can complain. We can ignore. Or we can embrace the change. How do you manage change? What approach do you take?

A friend of mine, who works at a different company, has managed to stay within the organization for almost twenty years. During that time company ownership has changed, leadership has change, company direction has changed, certainly her role and who she reports to have changed multiple times.  After a recent downsizing where many of her peers lost their job, she had the opportunity to have a conversation with the head of Human Resources. The executive complimented my friend on her attitude towards change. The HR executive said:

“Over all of the changes and down sizing and new leadership you have quickly accepted and adopted change. It is because of that attitude that we have continued to keep you and continued to create new roles for you within the company.”

My friends was shocked. She knew that those who had lost their job were smart and capable, as much or more so than herself, but it was her attitude about change that allowed her to stay with the organization.

Embracing change can be a challenge but think of the alternative.  For Phillip Phillips of American Idol, it may mean missing out on the grand prize. The classic definition of insanity is “doing the same thing and expecting different results.”

In the article 10 ways to Embrace Change, author Katherine Russell Rich says:

 Seek out new perspectives. Zen practitioners cultivate the “don’t know” mind; they work to assume they don’t know anything and in that way see the world fresh. This is a great way to approach change―as an opportunity to start anew, to consider all possibilities.

When faced with change tomorrow or next week – embrace it – welcome it and seek the adventure and opportunity change will bring your way. And if you are a fan of Phillip Phillips – he’s going to need your vote next week on American Idol!